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Audio CD, October 20, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

2009 debut album from the hotly tipped UK outfit fonted by Florence Welch. Lungs, produced by Paul Epworth, James Ford and Steve Mackay, is an intoxicating mix of delicate fragility, dark humor and twisted Tim Burton style fairy-tales. From the live favourite 'You've Got The Love' to the raw Blues-tinged 'Girl With One Eye' to the beautifully painful 'Between Two Lungs', the album is crammed with crowd pleasers. Also boasting fresh tracks like new single 'Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)', 'Drumming' - with its epic denseness, the terrifyingly brilliant 'Howl' and 'Hurricane Drunk' with it's paradoxical charms of heartbreak, love and loss, Lungs promises to leave us wanting more of the insanely captivating Florence Welch.

About the Artist

Let's talk about magic. Because music, at its best, is a kind of magic that lifts you up and takes you somewhere else. "I want my music to sound like throwing yourself out of a tree, or off a tall building, or as if you're being sucked down into the ocean and you can't breathe," says Florence Welch. "It's something overwhelming and all-encompassing that fills you up, and you're either going to explode with it, or you're just going to disappear."

Florence writes her best songs when she's drunk or has a hangover, because that's when the freedom, the feral music comes, creating itself wildly from the fragments gathered in her notebooks and in her head. "You're lucid," she explains, "but you're not really there. You're floating through your own thoughts, and you can pick out what you need. I like those weird connections in the universe. I feel that life's like a consistent acid trip, those times when things keep coming back."

Florence herself is a mass of contradictions: she's tough yet she's terrified, a bundle of nerves and passion, of darkness and pure joy. "I feel things quite intensely, which is why the music has to be so intense. I'm either really sad or really happy, I'm tired or completely manic. That's when I'm at my most creative, but it's also dangerous for me. I feel I could write some good songs, or break some hearts. Or tables. Or glasses."

As a performer she can seem fearless, but she's also far too quick to pass judgement on herself. This is the woman, after all who got into Camberwell art college by making a huge floral sign telling herself `You are a twat.' She says she's a geek, who loses all control when in love. She's also something increasingly rare and precious in a time of karaoke pop: an artist who has found her own, authentic voice.

Her soaring, epic vocals, quirky melodies and self-contained musical world have already won her the 2009 Critics Choice Award at the Brits. Some compare her to Kate Bush. You'll also find touches of Tom Waits and Nick Cave in her dark visions, and if you heard a little of Bjork too, she'd find it a compliment. But mainly, Florence is out on her own: an exhilarating place to be, she points out, but also a little scary.

Her debut album `Lungs' is made of harps, choirs, drums, elevator shafts, bits of metal, love, death, fireworks, string quartets, stamping, sighing, strange electronic wailing, lambs, lions, sick, broken glass, blood, moon, stars, drink, coffins, teeth, water, wedding dresses.. and the silences in between. The songs are full of Gothic imagery, of fairytale flights of fantasy, and although much has been read into her lyrics, Florence says it's usually simple. "Everything is about boys!" she laughs. "The whole album is about love - and pain. People see my lyrics as crazy, but to me it's an honest, heartfelt album. I didn't set out to be wacky. I just want it to be emotive."

Florence grew up in Camberwell, south London, the oldest of three children. One of her earliest musical memories is standing on top of the trunk where her dad kept his vinyl collection, dancing with him to the Rolling Stones. She started singing along to Nina Simone and Dusty Springfield at home, expanded her vocal range with arias, then became a pre-teen skatepunk before getting into drum'n'bass and dance music at squat parties. It's an eclectic mix, but for her, the common thread is always the emotion. "Anything that has real feeling in it always excites me. Sam Cooke's `A Change is Going To Come', Eva Cassidy singing `Wade In The Water', even Rhianna's `Umbrella' - I'm obsessed with music. I'll play Beyonce, Lil Wayne, Bob Dylan's `Hurricane', Bruce Springsteen's `Going Down'. I can't stay in one place or genre. That's why I had to make my own genre."

After her parents had separated, her mum fell in love with one of their neighbours. The two families moved in together and at the age of 13, Florence was suddenly one of six teenagers "I grew up in a weird brady bunch family, it was more like a tribe of teenagers than a regular upbringing. I had to share a room with my sister and my little brother had to sleep in a cupboard! Now, it's nice having a big family. But then, it was a completely fraught environment. No wonder I went off the rails, because there was never any space at home. In that sort of situation, you have to become an individual."

Florence found her own space by going out to clubs and pubs, by singing onstage and in her bedroom. By the time she left school, she'd already written songs like `Kiss With A Fist', and knew she wanted to make music but not how to go about it. So after a year working behind a bar she went to art school, making tents under the desk to sleep off her hangovers while trying to convince her tutors she was an installation.

It wasn't until she wrote the haunting `Between Two Lungs' that it all came together. Instead of percussion, Florence pounded the studio walls with her hands. She built the melody on the piano even though it's not an instrument she knows how to play, and recorded the backing vocals first, before writing the top line. It's bonkers and totally unconventional, but of course it is also glorious - a strange but yearning song about losing yourself in love. "I'd found my voice, and I just felt euphoric," she recalls. "It's been a real process of me learning that the way I wanted to do it was actually the right way. This whole album has been about having faith in myself."

As for The Machine, it's a flexible beast. It can go right down to Florence and a drum kit or a piano, but right now it's a seven-piece band including long-term collaborators Rob Ackroyd (guitar), Chris Hayden (drums), Isabella Summers (keyboards) and Tom Monger (harp). "I've worked with most of them for a long time and they know my style, know the way I write, they know what I want."

Live, Florence and The Machine become an entirely different beast. No two performances are ever alike, and clad in clothes often culled from local second-hand shops that day, Florence goes at it like a woman possessed. "It's just this sense of total freedom," she says. "It sounds so cheesy, but I want to touch people. Not in a weird way. I just want to help them feel what I'm feeling."

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
  1. Dog Days Are Over 4:13$1.29  Buy MP3 
  2. Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) 3:52$1.29  Buy MP3 
  3. I'm Not Calling You A Liar 3:05$1.29  Buy MP3 
  4. Howl 3:34$1.29  Buy MP3 
  5. Kiss With A Fist 2:04$1.29  Buy MP3 
  6. Girl With One Eye 3:38$1.29  Buy MP3 
  7. Drumming Song 3:44$1.29  Buy MP3 
  8. Between Two Lungs 4:09$1.29  Buy MP3 
  9. Cosmic Love 4:16$1.29  Buy MP3 
10. My Boy Builds Coffins 2:57$1.29  Buy MP3 
11. Hurricane Drunk 3:13$1.29  Buy MP3 
12. Blinding 4:40$1.29  Buy MP3 
13. You've Got The Love 2:48$1.29  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 20, 2009)
  • Original Release Date: October 20, 2009
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Universal Republic
  • ASIN: B001PB3RU8
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (483 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #335 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

144 of 150 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 11, 2009
Format: Audio CD
"Happiness hit her like a train on a track/Coming towards her stuck still no turning back/She hid around corners and she hid under beds/She killed it with kisses and from it she fled..."

Florence and the Machine is one of those little bands that seeps in under the pop radar, and becomes a sensation based on pure talent. And Florence Welch and Co. produce a solid debut, "Lungs," that blends delicate polished instrumentals and different genres -- there's little splatters of pop, punk and soul woven together, and cemented in place by Welch's lovely voice.

It kicks off with the plucked intro of "Dog Days Are Over," with Welch's sweet voice singing about "Happiness hit her like a bullet in the head/Struck from a great height by someone who should know better than that." While it starts off as soft, ethereal pop, the melody is swathed in eruptions of orchestral pop-rock -- it gets loud'n'catchy, with Welch yelling, "The doooog days are OVER-ER/the dooooog days are ALL DONE!"

She continues the high note with "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)," a scintillatingly colorful melody that sounds like a thunderstorm in a flower garden. After that she unleashes a bunch of other great songs: the soulful "I'm Not Calling You A Liar," the urgent piano-pop of "Howl," the wandering twangy "Girl With One Eye," the bouncy wistful "Between Two Lungs," and the sweetly macabre "My Boy Builds Coffins." An especially fun one is "Kiss With A Fist," a blazing punky tune that celebrates rough'n'passionate relationships ("You hit me once, I hit you back/you gave a kick, I gave a slap/you crashed a plate over my head/and I set fire to our bed!").
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67 of 75 people found the following review helpful By J. C. Petts on July 7, 2009
Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
Truly a stunning album. One of the most amazing pieces of music I have heard for many years.

Florence Welch has a voice that she uses to amazing effect. It reminds me alternately of some other outstanding female vocalists, such as Grace Slick, Sonja Kristina (Curved Air), Sinead O'Connor, Dido but somehow seems to transcend all of them.

There is an intimacy and warmth she projects, combined with a great power, yet at times projects and air of frailty and vulnerability.

The music itself is pop of the highest quality, and the at-times sparse mixes move seamlessly between driving rhythms and allusive, haunting and captivating airiness.

The way that instruments such as harp are highlighted and allowed to interact with, and emphasize Florence's voice is wonderful.

The lyrics repay careful listening, being very much out of the ordinary.

Standout track of this album is Rabbit Heart (Lift It Up), but any of these songs would, to my mind, be outstanding among the very best music ever recorded.

I entitled this review "The Best Album of 2009 (So Far)", but I would not be at all surprised if I didn't hear a better album than this for several years. Truly, truly a gem.
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53 of 59 people found the following review helpful By NUEVE on October 18, 2009
There are no words to describe how AMAZING this album is. From the beginning all its way through the end the music you find here is an unforgettable experience. Before I jump into conclusions with some of the songs let me tell you that this girl is so talented on her own terms. The production of the album is stunning and the arrangements of the instruments flow in such an incredible way and natural form that you might believe that perfection is what you hear. A piano here, an Arp there (such a beautiful inclusion to this record), an electric and acoustic guitar every now and then make the songs come up with their own personality.

"Dogs days are over", "I'm not calling you a liar" and "Drumming song" fight againts the traditional way of a song structure... there's a point where you don't know what you're listening and yet, you can't stop tapping your foot on the floor at the rythm of the music. Great songs for sure. "Rabbit heart (raise it up)" (of course!!!), "Kiss with a fist" and "You've got the love" are meant to be the commercial ones??? on the record... not that they're less impressive because of this 'cause once you hear the first one you fall in love with it right away. To point out one of tem in particular, I find "My boy builds coffins" a masterpiece. For some reason everything falls right in place here.

"Lungs" is by far one the best records of this year and for sure will be one of the best in the first decade of the 2000's. Because of projects like Florence + the machine and Bat for lashes (I must say), we know that if this kind of music is coming up from such young girls, we can expect a bright future for music itself. It is ok that we have ALL kinds of music: the bubblegum one (with all the annoying scene in the US), abstract one (a la Radiohead) and commercial-respected one (R.E.M., U2, Muse or even Placebo). But if we didn't have the independent one and all the UK scene going on, the whole music universe would be so predictable.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Glen Engel Cox on April 5, 2010
Format: Audio CD
I first heard Florence + the Machine on YouTube, the home of the music video ever since Mtv became the home of inane "reality" shows. I think I must have played the videos I could find by this band ten or more times in a row. Ever since the divine Kate Bush stopped releasing albums on a bi-yearly pace (she now is on the decade-release schedule, along with Peter Gabriel), I've been missing this kind of sound: a strong voice that can span octaves who understands dynamics and has a decent production that mixes simple piano lines with driving beats and layers of overdubs that don't muddy the whole thing but give it a sense of unrestrained joy. That's about as good a description as I can give you of "Dog Days Are Over," which starts off slow with some kind of repetitive plucked string instrument (mandolin?) and Florence Welch's soft vocal, then adds handclaps, piano chords, and harp, and builds with a great bass beat, as the vocal builds in both intensity and adds an overdubbed background vocal choir. Halfway through it calms again, to catch its breath, then hits again at full steam. It's a great song, even if I have no idea what the lyrics are actually about.

And that first song isn't even as good as the next song, "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)," which combines the better parts of Bush, Sarah McLachlan, and Loreena McKennitt in a lush song picture. This is the kind of experimental rock music I yearn for, especially that break right around the one minute mark where it breaks into a huge chorus with multiple voices (or, more likely, simply overdubs by Florence). The verses have this interplay between the lead vocal and a responsive background chorus, similar to some of the songs on the back side of Hounds of Love.
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What are your favourite unplugged & acoustic albums? No pyrotechnic...
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